Lecture 6 – Ontario:
• Ontario has the largest population of Canada’s regions.
• It has always been the economic engine of the country but in 2009 it received equalization payments
from the federal government for the first time ever.
• Ontario is larger than most countries (over 1 million sq. km).
• Only 7% of its population lives in northern Ontario.
• The Niagara Escarpment contains the most variable topography in southern Ontario.
• Summers in southern Ontario are hot and humid.
• In winter, invasions of Arctic air masses bring cold temperatures and bitter wind chills.
• Southern Ontario has over half of the highest quality agriculture land (Class 1) in Canada
o Divide agriculture into classes, Class 1 can grow a wide variety of crops.
o More woodlocks (tree regions) show the moister climate compared to the prairies.
• The French founded the first settlement in Ontario in 1749 across the river from Detroit and named
it Petite Côte (this is present-day Windsor).
• In the late 1700s, British Loyalists from the U.S. began settling throughout southern Ontario.
o Tension between Britain and the US resulted in several battles in southern Ontario (war of
▪ Ended the influx of US settlers.
• Ontario (Iroquoian word meaning “beautiful water”) was the name given to the area in 1867.
o Detroit = the strait.
▪ Named things after what they saw
• Petite Cote = little coast.
• War of 1812:
o Several battles took place between U.S. forces and British forces in Upper Canada (Ontario).
o A key objective of the U.S. was to annex the region.
o Indigenous people led by Chief Tecumseh joined the British to fight the US forces.
▪ Dozens were killed, including Tecumseh, at the battle of the Thames near
• All the great lakes are connected by straits.
• Lake Superior is the deepest.
• Combined together, the 5 Great Lakes make up the largest body of fresh water in the world.
• Between each lake are connecting straits (though they are referred to as rivers).
• Management and care of the lakes is shared by Canada and the US
• Major ports in the great lakes system: Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Milwaukee,
Hamilton, Toledo, Windsor, Thunder Bay
• Evolution of the Great Lakes:
o The Laurentide ice sheet covered most of Canada 18,000 years ago.
o As ice sheet melted it altered the landscape, creating waterways and forming great lakes.
• By volume, Lake Superior is the largest and Lake Erie is the smallest.
• Welland Canal opened in 1830 to allow ships to bypass Niagara Falls.
• The Great Lakes are important to Ontario’s economy (tourism, recreation, fishing, transportation
along the St. Lawrence Seaway).
• St. Lawrence Seaway connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. 2
Lake effect snow:
• Snowbelts are found downwind of the lakes.
o (In winter, the wind is often from the northwest).
• Lake-effect snow is caused by cold air moving over relatively warm water.
• Heavy snow falls downwind of lakes.
• Southern Ontario:
o London and Kitchener frequently receive lake effect snow from
Lake Huron causing high annual snowfall.
o Windsor occasionally receives lake effect snow
from Lake Michigan.
o All of southern Ontario frequently experiences lake
effect clouds in winter.
o Both lake effect clouds and lake effect snow
diminish when the lakes freeze (often occurs by
• Tornadoes in Ontario can occur when a southwesterly wind brings warm, moist air from the Gulf of
• Warm, moist air often interacts with cooler lake breezes.
• Occur more often in southern Ontario.
Concern with the Great Lakes:
• 1. Health of the lakes
o Eutrophication – addition of phosphate to the lakes. From fertilizers, chemicals that runoff
from agriculture. Particularly bad in Lake Eerie.
o Water pollution from urban runoff
• 2. Toxic contamination
o Contaminated sediment
o Beach closures due to high bacteria count
• 3. Exotic species (due to a lack of natural predators)
o Sea lamprey, goby
o Exotic animals would attach themselves to large ships and sail into new waters.
• Despite recent downturns, the center of Canada’s economy remains anchored in Ontario.
o Sheer size of the population
o Median personal income is well above national average
o Greatest cluster of cities, universities, and technological/research centers.
o Central location within North America with several high traffic border crossings to the US.
Regions of Ontario:
• Ontario is the most diverse province in Canada both in terms of physical geography and human
• Each region of the province is very different and is recognized as such by the provincial government.
• There are 5 regions:
o Northern, Eastern, Central, Golden Horseshoe, Southwestern
• 1. Northern Ontario:
o Major industries: forestry, mining 3
o The population density is very low.
o Largest cities: Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Sault St. Marie
o Northwestern Ontario suffers a disconnection from the rest of the province
o Have been several secession movements.
▪ North could never be its own province because it has such a weak
economy on its own.
• 2. Eastern Ontario:
o The major industries are related to the federal government.
o Largest cities: Ottawa, Kingston, Cornwall
o Many lakes, rivers, hills, and waterfalls add to the scenery in this region.
o There is a relatively high francophone population in the region due to the
proximity of Quebec.
• 3. Central Ontario:
o The major industries are related to tourism and recreation.
o Largest cities: Barrie, Peterborough, Orillia
o Large portion of this region is nicknamed “cottage country”
• 4. Golden Horseshoe:
o Major industries: finance, insurance, health care, education
o Largest CMAs: Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catherines
o Highly urbanized, attracts many immigrants, and has a dense and diverse
• 5. Southwestern Ontario: Major industries: manufacturing, agriculture
o Largest CMAs: Kitchener, London, Windsor
o This region has much in common with the U.S. Midwest.
▪ Several auto assembly plants and feeder factories drive the
▪ Southernmost portion is culturally influenced by the close proximity
Forestry in northern Ontario:
• The demand for lumber is gradually diminishing due to technology lowering the
demand for paper:
o Internet is replacing newspapers and magazines
o Billing, accounting, and banking transactions are all using less paper.
• Softwood lumber is the main export.
• The majority of land in Northern Ontario is Crown land (it is owned by the provincial government).
• Scattered pulp and paper mills are located in small towns throughout the region.
o If a mill closes the town has major problems.
• The provincial government signs contracts with logging companies where strict regulations are in
• A major challenge in the forest industry is to maintain a balance between cutting and the
regeneration of forest.
• Logging companies are responsible for replanting trees.
Mining in northern Ontario:
• The Canadian Shield contains gold, nickel, silver, and copper.
• Metallic mineral production in Ontario leads that of all other provinces and territories.
• Minerals are a non-renewable resource that deplete over time.
o Thus, mining communities can have a short lifespan. 4
Human Geography of northern Ontario:
o An aging population
o Net emigration, especially younger people
o Very few immigrants
o A small but increasing Indigenous population
• The rocky terrain of Northern Ontario makes it difficult to traverse and discourages settlement.
• The vast majority of the population is located along two corridors:
• Northern branch of the Trans-Canada highway and the Canadian national railroad line.
• The southern branch of the Trans-Canada highway and the Canadian pacific railroad line.
Agriculture in southern Ontario:
• Southern Ontario has the most suitable land for agriculture in Canada.
• This is due to temperatures moderated by the Great Lakes, moderate and consistent precipitation,
and fertile soil.
• Cropland is dominant in southwestern Ontario whereas livestock farms are more common in eastern
o Tomatoes and grapes: Vineyards and greenhouses are common in extreme Southwestern
o Corn: most common crop, it is grown throughout southwestern Ontario.
o Tobacco: it is grown on a sand plain north of Lake Erie near Tillsonburg, this area has soil
that is poor for growing other crops
▪ Very sensitive growing conditions.
o Fruit: peaches, cherries, and plums are grown in the Niagara area.
• Niagara Fruit Belt:
o This is a small area located between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie that contains a
▪ 1. Lacustrine Soil
▪ 2. A moderated climate from the two nearby lakes (longer frost-free season in Fall;
cooler temperatures in Spring prevent early budding).
• Good that trees don’t bud too early.
▪ 3. The nearby Niagara Escarpment protects the area from harsh winds.
Manufacturing in southern Ontario:
• Reasons for the development of manufacturing in this region:
o 1. Geographic advantage (proximity to US)
o 2. Trade restriction (National Policy)
o 3. Size of the domestic market (work force)
• Auto industry:
o The industry has been a major, well-paying employer in Southern Ontario for over 100 years.
o The first plants were built in Detroit and Windsor; the auto industry then expanded
throughout the lower Great Lakes area on both sides of the border.
o Of all vehicles made in North America, 15% are made in Southern Ontario by 104,000
o Wages received by autoworkers help to drive the retail and service sectors of Ontario’s
o There are 5 parts to the industry:
▪ Suppliers of materials
▪ Parts production in small factories
▪ Vehicles assembly in massive plants 5
▪ Service firms (advertisers, designers, sales)
▪ Corporate (decision makers, administration)
o Just-in-time Principle – small shipment sizes so they can be sent out faster.
▪ This is used by the industry to take advantage of savings in inventories,
warehousing, labor, etc.
• The auto pact was developed by the Canada and the U.S. in 1965 to integrate the industry.
• Benefits for Canadians:
o 1. It guaranteed that Canadian plants would not close.
o 2. It allowed Canadian plants to specialize in certain models.
o 3. Reduces the price of vehicles.
o Both countries would eliminate the 15% tariff on automobiles and parts.
o Canada was guaranteed a minimum level of automobile production.
• Auto Pact was the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
• Ontario has passed Michigan to become the biggest producer of automobiles in North America
• The recession of 2008-09 resulted in a drop in production but demand for new vehicles has since
increased to replace an aging fleet.
• Assembly plants:
o An assembly plant is where a vehicle is produced.
o All assembly plants in Canada are located in southern Ontario.
o Transportation links to the major markets in Canada and the US are readily available, and
driving distances are short.
o GM, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, and Honda all operate assembly plants in Southern Ontario.
The Big 3:
• This term has historically referred to General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.
• These companies currently dominate in the sale of pick-up trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
• In 1990, 90% of vehicles produced in North America were from one of the Big Three.
o In 2010, this dropped to 60% of vehicles produced in North America were from one of the
• Asian presence:
o Ontario has attracted plants owned by Japanese-based companies (Toyota and Honda).
o -Ontario has a highly skilled automotive workforce
o -publicly funded health care is available thus the auto company does not need to pay for
medical insurance for their employees.
• The 2008 recession:
o The finances of General Motors and Chrysler collapsed during the recession; the companies
were unable to pay their workers.
o This was caused by the economic and mortgage crisis in the U.S. at that time which caused a
sharp drop in vehicle sales.
o Exports of automobiles to the US fell dramatically
o This caused a ripple effect throughout the manufacturing sector and resulted in thousands
of layoffs in Ontario.
o Government response:
▪ The Canada, U.S., and Ontario governments kept General Motors and Chrysler
afloat in 2008 and 2009 by providing billions of dollars in loans.
▪ Since 2011, both companies have seen dramatic increases in sales. 6
• Each company has repaid the government loans.
▪ The governments were credited with saving thousands of well-paying jobs in
• The dense population and cluster of cities in Southern Ontario and neighboring U.S. states results in
air pollution being an issue.
• Smog results when sunlight reacts with pollutants emitted by industry and vehicle exhaust.
• It can lead to respiratory problems, especially among the elderly and the very young.
o Issue with people with compromised immune systems.
• Tackling air pollution:
o The Ontario government recently closed all of the coal power plants in the province.
o Natural gas and nuclear plants have replaced the decommissioned coal plants.
o Thousands of wind turbines have been erected in Southwestern Ontario since 2000.
▪ The best locations for wind turbines are in flat landscapes that are relatively close to
• Wind atlas shows the concentration of good winds in Ontario.
Trade with the US:
• Over 80% of Ontario’s exports go to the U.S.
• Production in primary sector industries in Northern Ontario (forestry, minerals) is greater than what
the Canadian market can absorb therefore most is exported to the U.S.
• Automobile trade accounts for 30% of all of Canada’s trade with the US.
• The majority of Ontario’s exports cross over the Detroit River or the St. Clair River.
• Innovative technological research is seen as the future of Ontario’s economy.
• The “Technology Triangle of Canada” includes the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.
• Software companies and technology manufacturers are headquartered in this region.
Urbanization in Ontario:
• Over 80% of Ontarians live in an urban area.
• Neighboring US cities:
o The two large U.S. cities that border Ontario have strong relationships with the province
both economically and culturally.
▪ Detroit, MI (from Windsor), Buffalo, NY (from Fort Erie)
o The Greater Toronto Area has rapidly urbanized over the past 50 years.
o 1. Farms are subdivided into smaller units (less production)
o 2. Reluctance to plant new trees.
o 3. Greater demand for services (infrastructure, schools, garbage collection, health care, etc).
o 4. Speculation (holding land in anticipation for future development may lead to higher land
o 5. Lack of confidence in farming (not considered a good long-term investment)
Growth in Ontario:
• The highest growth rates are found in the Golden Horseshoe region.
• The areas of Ontario within 100 km of Toronto have much higher growth rates than elsewhere in
o This is partly influenced by public transit connections.
Political voting patterns: 7
• Fast-growing areas tended to vote differently than slow-growing areas in the 2014 provincial
o A noticeable urban/rural dichotomy has developed in Southern Ontario voting patterns.
• The name derives from the horseshoe-like shape of the land around the western end of Lake
• Most densely populated area in Canada
• Over 7.5mil people live in this area.
o Toronto is the most populous city in Canada.
o It is the financial capital and is home to the main offices of national banks and investment
o Immigration is a major driving force of its population growth
▪ Visible minorities make up 37% of the population.
o It is a hub for the entertainment industry
o Ottawa is the second largest city in Ontario.
o It is located on the Ottawa River across from Gatineau, Quebec.
o Both official languages are used throughout Ottawa and there are federal government
operations on both sides of the river.
o Federal government is the major employer.
Other large urban areas of southern Ontario:
• The cities are most well-known for the following:
o Hamilton: steel production, health care
o Kitchener-Waterloo: technology and research (U. of Waterloo)
o London: insurance, education, regional service center.
▪ Regional service center: people within an hour or so from London will come to
London to shop (like the “capital” of SW Ontario)
o St. Catharine’s-Niagara Falls: tourism
o Windsor: manufacturing
Urban areas of northern Ontario:
• The cities are most well-known for the following:
o Sudbury: nickel and copper mining
o Thunder Bay: trans-shipment point on the great lakes
▪ Transfer from shipping to railways etc. to go out west.
o Sault Ste. Marie: steel production
o North Bay: regional service center
o Timmins: gold mining
Greater Toronto Area Greenbelt:
• This is an effort by the provincial government to slow urban sprawl.
• Prohibits urban development in a large designated zone surrounding the Greater Toronto Area.
o Surrounded in a “green belt”
Lecture 7 – Quebec:
• Quebec ranks second among the six regions in terms of economic output and population.
• It is the largest province in area.
• The St. Lawrence River figures prominently in Quebec’s history and economy.
• Quebec’s culture derives from the historical experience of Francophones living in the area for over
• 80% of residents declare French their mother tongue. These citizens have historically been known as
o Term has evolved to now include all people who reside in Quebec.
• Non-Francophone residents tend to be clustered in specific parts of the province.
• These provincial laws require businesses to use French.
• The laws have helped maintain French as the primary language in the region.
o Most immigrants to Quebec today who speak neither French nor English choose to learn
Non-francophones in Quebec:
o Generally concentrated in Montreal, the Eastern Townships, and the Ottawa River valley.
• Allophones (non anglo, non franco)
o Concentrated in Montreal
• Indigenous Peoples
o Inuit and Cree form the majority of the population of northern Quebec
St. Lawrence River:
• The river is an essential part of North America’s transportation system because it connects the Great
Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
• Dredging was required to prevent large freighters from running aground.
o Widening and deepening the river.
• Canals were constructed to allow ships to pass around rapids or waterfalls.
o These became part of the St. Lawrence Seaway (opened in 1959).
• Quebec is growing at a slower rate than the rest of Canada.
• Birth rate is low in all areas and the immigration rate is low in all areas except for Montreal.
• In 1871, Quebec represented 32% of Canada’s population; however, it has since shrunk to 23%.
• Whitest province?
• Decline in Canada’s population share:
o What has caused Quebec’s decline in Canada’s population share?
▪ 1. Expansion and growth of the Canadian West
▪ 2. Relocation of businesses and corporate headquarters from Quebec to Ontario.
o As Quebec separatism movements gained momentum during the 1970s, Anglophone
businesses and corporations left the province.
▪ They feared that an independent Quebec would lead to an unattractive business
• The Canadian Shield extends over 90% of Quebec. 9
• Best agricultural land is along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec
o Still not as good as southern Ontario land.
o Quebec: primarily dairy farming.
• Gaspé Peninsula is very rugged and confines settlements to its coastline.
• Precipitation in the province is relatively high due to the proximity of the Atlantic
• Mining wastes are evident within the Canadian Shield.
• Parts of the St. Lawrence River still contain high levels of toxic chemicals, lead, and mercury from
older industrial processes.
• Introduction of the zebra mussel has negatively impacted aquatic ecosystem.
o This is a small mollusk that was introduced to the St. Lawrence River by ships that originated
▪ Blocked hundreds of pipelines and water intakes.
Improving the environment:
• All of the energy in Quebec is generated from hydroelectric sources.
• Quebec is the lowest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases of any province (along with P.E.I.).
• Motorists are charged an extra 0.8 cents/litre on gas.
• Revenue from this is used to fund maintenance of the hydroelectric energy system.
• Greenhouse gas: allows solar radiation to pass through but absorbs infrared radiation from earth.
• 2 major greenhouse gasses that lead to climate change (how do they work?):
o Carbon dioxide
• The area was originally known as New France.
• 1534 – Cartier sailed into Chaleur Bay and claimed the land for France. He discovered the mouth of
the St. Lawrence River the following year.
• 1608 – Champlain founded a fur trading post at the current site of Quebec City. He became known as
the Father of New France.
• Ville-Marie was later renamed Montreal.
• 1759 – The British defeated the French army on the Plains of Abraham.
o After this defeat, British ruled Quebec for over 100 years.
• 1763 – The Treaty of Paris formally awarded New France to Britain.
• 1774 – Britain passed the Quebec act recognizing that citizens have special rights, use of French
language, the Catholic religion, and French Civil law.
• 1867 – Confederation
o Benefits of Confederation for Quebec:
▪ Union with the three other colonies would strengthen the overall economy
▪ Catholicism and the French language were guaranteed protection by the federal
▪ Provinces were given control over education and language laws.
▪ Working with Ontario, Quebec could influence federal politics and shape the future
• 1898 – The federal government extends Quebec’s northern boundary into the Canadian Shield. 10
• 1912 – Quebec nearly doubled in size when the boundary was expanded to include the Inuit lands of
• 1927 –Acourtdeclaredtheboundary between QuebecandLabrador should followthe drainage basin
divide. Quebec does not agree with this decision to this day.
• The geographic aspects of the economy are similar to those in Ontario since the province can be
divided into two economic areas:
o An industrial and agricultural core (south)
o A resource-based periphery (north)
• Differences compared to Ontario:
o Growing season in Quebec is relatively short
o Quebec has much better natural conditions for hydroelectricity development.
• Manufacturing in Quebec has declined during the past 10 years but remains a viable industry.
• There are currently 20 firms in the Montreal area that produce automobile parts.
• The parts are then shipped to assembly plants in Ontario and the US.
• Research and technology industries have fared well with the support of Montreal’s Universities.
o Moving to quaternary sector (knowledge based).
• Hydro-Quebec is a sense of pride among Quebec residents and has become a symbol of its economic
• Created in 1944 but was a minor force until Premier Jean Lesage came to power in 1960.
o At that time, Quebec announced it would purchase all private electrical utilities in the
o This created a monopoly to generate and distribute electricity both within the province and
o Stimulate economic growth through government intervention
o Undertake construction of massive hydroelectric projects in the Canadian Shield
o Build high voltage transmission lines to transport electricity.
o Sell power to the northeastern states of the US.
o These strategies have been highly successful.
• Possible expansions:
o Taking over the electrical utilities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is a long-term goal.
▪ Gain control of the power grid in these provinces to achieve complete dominance of
the area as well as a share of the market in New York state and the 6 New England
o Hydroelectric developments depend on three factors:
▪ Lots of precipitation, variable topography, access to markets.
• Precipitation is abundant in Quebec.
• Variable topography with entrenched river valleys ensure a steady flow for
the power plants.
o High-voltage transmission lines connect the plants in the north to the populated markets in
• Advantages of hydroelectric developments: 11
o Renewable energy
o Long life of the facilities.
o Relatively low operating costs
▪ Has big cost to actually making the plant in the first place.
o Job creation during construction
o No greenhouse gas emissions
• Attracting large-scale industry:
o Hydro-Quebec has indirectly improved Quebec’s economy by attracting large-scale industrial
o Hydro-Quebec is able to offer power to these industrial firms at a low cost.
o Transmission lines go straight downward toward where the general population is.
• Energy prices for industry:
o How is Hydro-Quebec able to offer low energy prices to industrial firms?
▪ 1. Northern Quebec can produce vast amounts of power (much more than the
▪ 2. Hydro-Quebec has a long-term contract to buy power from Churchill Falls in
Labrador at 1969 prices.
▪ 3. As a monopoly, Hydro-Quebec is free to control its own price structure.
James Bay project:
• It involves the production of hydroelectricity from all 20 rivers that flow into James Bay from Quebec.
• The first phase (La Grande) began in 1972 and was completed 10 years later at a cost of $15 billion.
• Construction required a new highway to northern Quebec and the creation of a new community
o The project was one of the few hydroelectric developments that created controversy.
o Indigenous peoples and environmental organizations were the most outspoken against the
o Flooding caused by dams
o Loss of habitat
o Loss of timber
o Impact on indigenous hunting grounds.
• Responses to controversy:
o Opposition from the Cree and Sierra Club influenced public opinion in the U.S.
o A settlement was reached between the Indigenous people and Hydro-Quebec.
▪ This was referred to as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
Geography of North Quebec:
• This part of the province occupies the Canadian Shield and the Hudson Bay Lowlands.
• The economy is based on mining and forestry.
• There are few roads and the area is too remote to attract tourists.
• Political opportunities are currently growing for the northern Quebec region of Nunavik.
Demographics of north Quebec:
• Aging population
• Net emigration, especially of younger people
• Few immigrants 12
• Growing Inuit and Cree population
• Similar to north Ontario demographics.
• Over 90% of the population in this area is Inuit.
• Almost all residents live in one of the 15 settlements along the coast.
• Negotiations are ongoing to establish a regional government.
• Regional government:
o This would be an elected parliamentary-style cabinet and council.
o A public service would be responsible for delivering health care and education.
o The government center would be in Kuujuaq.
o Quebec would maintain jurisdiction over the area and provide funding.
• Quebec is canada’s leading producer of paper and newsprint. Much of it is exported to the US.
• Demand for Quebec’s softwood lumber has been consistently higher than U.S. softwood lumber.
▪ Quebec’s cold climate results in slower tree growth which increases the strength of
• Mining is a key component of the economy in northern Quebec.
• The annual value of mineral production in northern Quebec is over $4 billon.
• Iron ore is the most common type of mine followed by copper, and gold.
• Quebec attracts tourists for its natural beauty, historic past, and francophone culture.
o It is within a day’s drive of tens of millions of people.
• Threats to tourism:
o Canadian dollar fluctuation
o Global economic uncertainty
o Thickening of the US border
• Over 80% of Quebec’s population lives in an urban area.
• Over 70% of the population live in one of 6 cities:
o Montreal, Quebec City, Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Saguenay, and Trois-Rivieres.
▪ Saguenay is the name of two cities that merged together in 2002 (Chicoutimi and
o Montreal is the commercial, cultural, and industrial center of Quebec. Its name is French for
Royal Mountain (a large hill in the center of the city).
o The city is located on an island.
o Serves asa major portand trans-shipmentpointbetweenthe GreatLakes and AtlanticOcean.
• Quebec City:
o Quebec City is the provincial capital and is the oldest city in Canada.
▪ It is the only walled city in North America and features buildings over 300 years old.
o The economy is dependent on provincial government jobs and tourism.
• Eastern Townships (Estrie)
o This is a scenic area east of Montreal abutting the Appalachian Mountains.
o Sherbrooke is the largest city in this area. 13
Lecture 8 – British Columbia
• British Columbia is mainly located in the Cordillera physiographic region.
• The northeastern part of the province is located in the Interior Plains physiographic region.
• The mountain ranges in BC are aligned on a northwest to southeast axis.
• Central plateau lands are found between mountain ranges.
• The Insular Mountains are located just off the coast of B.C. and form the backbone of Haida Gwaii
and Vancouver Island.
• Temperate rainforests are found along the coast, semi-arid conditions in parts of the interior, and
tundra at high elevations.
• BC is divided into 7 regions.
Regions of BC:
• 1. Vancouver Island – Coast:
o The Coast mountain range is the most prominent
o Fjords are commonly found
▪ Canyon filled with water.
o along the coast.
o The area has the mildest winters in Canada due to
the moderation caused by the Pacific Ocean.
o Major industries include forestry, fishing, and
government services (in Victoria)
• 2. Lower Mainland – Southwest:
o This area contains alluvial soil with a high nutrient
o It is the major agricultrual area of the province.
o The majority of the population in BC live in this
region as it is
o Home to the Vancouver CMA.
• 3. Thompson – Okanagan:
o Kamloops and Kelowna are located in this region in the B.C. interior.
o It is a relatively dry area with sunny, warm summers.
o The land is a mix of open range, cattle grazing, forest land
o Tourism is an important industry in the area around Lake Okanagan.
o Transportation corridors pass through this region (roads and rails follow along the
• 4. Kootenay:
o The Rocky Mountains are found in this region as well as the communities of Nelson,
Cranbrook, and Fernie.
o The continental divide forms the border between this region and Alberta.
o Economy is driven by tourism, mining, and hydroelectric power
• 5. Cariboo – Prince George:
o Prince George is a regional service centre for the surrounding area.
o Forestry, mining, ranching, pulp and paper mills are important industries in this region.
o University of Northern British Columbia was established in Prince George in 1990
▪ Establishing universities stabilizes economy of the area. 14
• 6. Skeena – North Coast:
o This is an isolated area bordering Alaska.
o Economy is driven by fishing, mining, aluminum smelters, and hydroelectric power.
o Prince Rupert is the second busiest port in B.C.
• 7. Northeast:
o The only highway connecting Yukon and Alaska to southern Canada passes through this
o Small towns service traffic and truck transport along this corridor.
• The population in B.C. is relatively fast growing; many immigrants arrive to the Vancouver CMA from
• The province has four main exports:
o Lumber, pulp, natural gas, coal
▪ Coal economy is shrinking
• Vancouver has become a popular location for filming Hollywood movies.
• Imports from China, Japan, and South Korea flow through Vancouver to markets across Canada.
• The Rocky Mountains can act as more than just a physical divide.
o Psychological divide as well.
• Only 4 highways that connect BC with the rest of Canada.
• Throughout its history, many residents of B.C. have felt a disconnection from the rest of Canada.
• One expression of this is the concept of Cascadia:
o This is the name proposed for an independent country uniting BC and the states of
Washington and Oregon.
• Climate zones:
o Varied topography creates many microclimates.
o Because Victoria is in the rain-shadow of the Insular Mountains, it receives 40% less
precipitation than Vancouver.
▪ Insular mountains are on the islands.
o The Pineapple Express is a flow of warm air in winter originating in Hawaii that keeps B.C.
mild but also very wet.
o Summer in Vancouver and Victoria are mild and relatively dry
• The B.C. forest industry has been negatively impacted by large forest fires and the mountain pine
• The Okanagan Valley is prone to dry summers, high winds, and occasional lightning.
o These are all ingredients for forest fires.
• Mountain pine beetle:
o The beetle has destroyed vast areas of forest in the B.C. interior.
o Warmer winters due to climate change are allowing the beetle to spread at a rapid rate.
o Pine beetle is the size of a grain of rice.
o Not an exotic species, they are native to the area.
▪ Now warm winters make it so that they are not killed off in the winter, issue caused
by climate change. 15
• Early exploration of the land was by Spanish, Russians, and British explorers. Spain surrendered its
claim to the Pacific coast north of 42°N.
• Britain was concerned about many Americans arriving on the coast along the Oregon Trail.
• US/Britain boundary was drawn at 49°N.
• This line of latitude then became the US/Canada border from Manitoba to the BC coast.
o Point Roberts, US is trapped in BC.
▪ Cut off from US.
• In the mid-1800s there was an influx of Americans during gold rushes.
o Britain established the colony of BC in 1858 to ensure British rule over the land.
• After Confederation, Ottawa aimed to lure B.C. into Canada by promising to build a railroad to the
Pacific Ocean within 10 thars of B.C. joining.
o BC became the 6 Canadian province in 1871.
• After completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, towns and cities developed along the corridor.
o Vancouver quickly grew as a trans-shipment point for lumber and coal produced in B.C. and
also for grain produced in the Prairies.
• Immigration increased especially after the mid-1900s
• The 2010 Winter Olympics put BC on the world stage and are a high point in its history.
Core or Periphery?
• B.C. no longer has a resource-based economy.
• While the economy is growing and diversifying, it has a very small manufacturing base.
o In this sense, it is not considered a core region.
▪ However, economic advancement in the knowledge-based economy has resulted in
B.C. becoming an upward transitional region.
• Growing quickly as an economy (upward transitional region).
Pacific Rim trade:
• Exports to China, Japan, and South Korea make up 25% of the products passing through B.C. ports.
• Trade is rapidly accelerating with China as their economy continues to develop.
• The federal government has invested in the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor (a program that
improves infrastructure leading to B.C. ports).
• Over 80 species of fish and marine animals are harvested from the Pacific Ocean.
o The most valuable species are salmon, herring, and shellfish.
• Overexploitation of the salmon stock has plagued the BC fishing industry.
• Salmon industry:
o Regulating salmon fishing is challenging because they are a migratory fish.
o Salmon may spawn in Canadian waters but then migrate to American waters.
o This problem is an example of the “tragedy of the commons”
▪ A common need of use for many people.
▪ Destruction of renewable resources that are not privately owned. (can’t privately
own the ocean)
o The main BC salmon spawning rivers are the Fraser and the Skeena.
o The federal government is responsible for managing salmon stock and faces four issues:
▪ 1. Salmon spawn in rivers but migrate to oceans then return to rivers to spawn (5-
▪ 2. Forestry and hydroelectric industries have negatively impacted salmon spawning
grounds. (water pollution). 16
▪ 3. Indigenous people are permitted to catch salmon for subsistence. (living off of
▪ 4. The harvesting of ‘Canadian’ salmon by Americans in international waters.
o The size of catch is highly variable from year to year but the overall trend has been
o Factors accounting for this:
▪ Pollution of fish habitat
▪ Warming ocean temperatures
• Because the previous year was subpar, etc.
▪ High fish quotas
▪ Indigenous fishery
• Exporting mineral deposits from B.C. is a challenge because most mines are located far from the
• A shale deposit in northeastern B.C. contains a vast quantity of natural gas.
• Infrastructure improvements and pipelines are needed to export it more efficiently to growing Asian
• B.C. has a variety of energy sources including hydroelectric plants.
• There are ideal conditions for hydroelectric dams in the Cordillera:
o High elevation, steep-sided valleys, and large fast flowing rivers
• Large aluminum production plants have located in BC as a result of the low cost for electrical power.
• Tourists are attracted to both the natural beauty and wilderness of B.C. and the cosmopolitan urban
• The Whistler ski resort benefited from hosting events of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
• Cruise ships bound for Alaska often stop along the BC coast.
• Expanding the Sea-to-Sky Highway to meet tourism needs was a controversial issue.
• B.C. contains half of Canada’s softwood lumber and leads the nation in the export of forest products.
• In 1960, forestry accounted for 50% of employment in BC. It now accounts for 12%.
• A major factor for the decline is the reduction of softwood lumber exports to the U.S.
• B.C. forests are divided into two major regions:
o The coast forest and the interior boreal forest
• B.C. Coast forest:
▪ Mild temperatures and abundant rainfall
▪ Low risk of forest fires results in massive trees over 200 years old. (not getting
burned down and having to be re-planted).
▪ Common species are fir, cedar, and hemlock
• B.C. Interior forest:
▪ Precipitation is less abundant
▪ Prone to drought and forest fires in late summer
▪ Trees are smaller and have a shorter lifespan
▪ Common species are Lodgepole pine and Ponderosa pine. 17
Softwood lumber dispute with the US:
• U.S. lumber producers complained to the U.S. government about losing market share to Canadian
producers who were selling lumber at lower prices.
• Lobbyists encouraged the US government to impose duties on Canadian lumber.
• Despite the existence of NAFTA, this was still allowable. Why?
o Because the US companies can claim the power prices are a form of unfair trade.
• Softwood lumber trade agreement (2006):
o The agreement between the U.S. and Canada was signed in 2006.
▪ US had to return $4 billion of duty it charged on Canadian lumber companies since
▪ US could not launch trade actions against Canadian lumber producers
▪ If lumber prices fell below a certain value, Canada had to impose a tax on its lumber
exports. (This protects US lumber companies).
• Over 60% of B.C. residents live in the Lower Mainland-Southwest region.
o Urban centres: Vancouver, Abbotsford
• The second most populated area is found on southeastern Vancouver Island.
o Urban centres: Victoria, Nanaimo
• Third population cluster is located in the interior.
o Urban centres: Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton.
• Vancouver is the largest port in Canada and the 3 largest CMA.
• Nearly 20% of the CMA is of Chinese ethnic origin.
o Highest percentage in Canada.
• Approximately one-third of people do not identify with any religion.
o Highest amount in Canada.
Lecture 9 – Prairie Provinces
• This region is home to the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
• It is commonly referred to as the Prairies however the northern portions of each province have a
landscape dominated by boreal forest.
• Southern half is heavily agricultural.
• Topography is flat. Climate is dry. Extreme temp differences between summer and winter
• Oil is an important natural resource.
• Tourism is highest in the Rocky mountain foothills (ex: Banff and Jasper)
• There is a high indigenous population and relatively high Eastern European population.
o Prince Louise Caroline Alberta was the 4 daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
o Derived from a Cree word meaning “swift flowing water”
o Derived from a Cree word meaning “lake of the prairies” 18
• Before 1869:
o Land division was based on Métis settlement patterns. Lots were narrow and provided
frontage along rivers.
• From 1869 onward:
o It was based on grids and square lots ¼ of a square mile in size.
o The square pattern preceded European settlement and was superimposed over physical
obstacles and the preceding Métis settlement pattern.
Early settlement patterns:
• Initially, villages and towns were arranged in a linear pattern linked to railways.
• These settlements provided basic services for nearby farmers.
• Larger towns developed around grain elevators; roughly every third settlement along a railway was
larger and provided more diverse services than villages (e.g. a school or a medical clinic).
• Each village was home to frequently used services (e.g. general stores).
Rural population decline:
• Since 1940, the rural population in the Prairies has steadily declined.
o 1. Farms became larger and more mechanized leading to a lower population density.
o 2. Grain farms became more common (after WW2).
▪ There is no livestock on these types of farms thus minimal staffing is necessary.
• Declining villages:
o Since 1940, the population of many villages has declined while larger towns and cities have
▪ 1. Lower rural population density of rural areas leads to less business for villages.
▪ 2. An increased use of trucks and cars as oppose